AUSTRALIA captain Cameron Smith has spoken of the temptation to return to Queensland when his Melbourne contract expires at the end of next season.
In a wide-ranging interview with Rugby League Week, Smith also addresses the Australian Crime Commission allegations, the NRL’s reticence about expansion and his sense of responsibility to fellow players.
“I think I’m off contract next year. Who knows what the future holds?” says Smith, 29.
“When I first started playing, I thought if I ever had the chance to play first grade, I want to be a one-club player. But things change, mate.
“ I’ve got a family now with three kids where we’re living away from the rest of our family, which is up in Queensland, and sometimes it’s hard.
“Footy’s been great, the club’s been great, we love Melbourne. But sometimes it’s difficult when you have to travel. It’s hard for the wife to look after three kids. These are issues you face in life.’
Smith last week spoke up on the issue of the Auckland Nines, warning the RLPA may soon be called in of the increasing workload on players. He said he felt a responsibility to protect the rights of his fellow professionals.
“I see my role in the game at the moment as a bit of a voice for the players,” Smith explains.
“I speak to guys all around the competition fairly regularly. I feel it’s my job to do what best portrays the playing group.”
And Smith says the ARLC’s reluctance to expand is a disappointment. “There hasn’t been (movement) and I think that’s a shame because that’s the way we need to go,” he said.
“That should be high on our priorities, to make our sport a truly national sport. At the moment we play down the eastern seaboard and we’ve got one team in New Zealand .”
Like other players, Smith is dismayed at the way the ACC investigation into match-fixing, doping and organised crime in Australian sport has been handled.
“If they’re going to come out and have a press conference like that, name someone if you’ve got something,” the Queensland skipper said.
“Name someone so it just doesn’t throw a blanket over everybody that plays elite sport in Australia.”
Filed for: RUGBY LEAGUE WEEK